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Majority of Texans support a shift to renewable energy study finds

City of Austin officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony January 6, 2012 on a 30 megawatt solar farm in Webberville.
Mose Buchele
City of Austin officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony January 6, 2012 on a 30 megawatt solar farm in Webberville.

Texans want legislators to spend some of the state's $33 billion budget surplus on alternative energy sources, according to survey from The Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

This survey comes two years after issues with the Texas power grid during Winter Storm Uri.

Sixty-four percent of Texans surveyed favor expanding U.S. reliance on solar power plants, 59% favor reliance on geothermal plants, and 57% favor reliance on wind turbine farms. In comparison, 42% favored increasing reliance on nuclear power plants and natural gas-fired power plants.

Senior Executive Director and Researcher Renee Cross says overall, there is strong support for using some of those funds on alternative energy.

"Whether we're talking about solar or wind, even hydrogen power plants and hydroelectric dams," she said. "That being said, we do see partisan divides as well as generational."

The Hobby school's data showed Republicans and older voters tend to favor more traditional energy sources while Democrats and younger voters favor alternative energy.

The study is one of seven reports on Texas legislative issues the school is observed for this year after the state budget surplus. Cross said there were a few proposed ideas to promote more use of renewable energy.

"There's legislation that would allow homes and businesses with solar panels to sell any extra power they generate back to the electric grid," she said.

Another proposed idea revolves around giving one-time tax credit or incentives to companies to promote construction of more infrastructure for renewable energy, as well as power plants.

A 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report shows most renewable energy industries expect job increases over the next year, and the same industries were still growing from the years 2019 to 2021; during the pandemic. However, Cross felt the pandemic did slow renewable energy through construction.

"We had less demand for energy during the pandemic, and it affected the investment in infrastructure for renewables," Cross said. "In most cases, it takes 10 to 12 years to build infrastructure for it's use. And if you have a slow-down for getting parts, for example, then that's gonna put that a little further away."

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